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When taper referred to silver content

Questions are the life blood of the numismatic hobby. There is no way any collector can know everything. There is also no way you can start in the hobby and learn about it without forming questions of your own.

I had a call yesterday from someone who had a question about Canadian silver coins. Coin Market at a Glance offers silver bullion market values every week for a variety of coins. It refers to Canadian 10-cent, 25-cent and 50-cent coins as being .800 fine silver pre-1967.

The caller said he had coins that look like perfectly good silver that are dated 1967 and 1968. Why aren’t those included?

Sometimes it seems to me that the late 1960s were just yesterday. I remembered that Canada tapered off silver just as we did but with different denominations than the United States.

I remembered the .500 fine coins of 1968, but what I had forgotten was the taper began during the centennial year of 1967 for the dime and quarter and continiued for a time into 1968. For the silver dollar and half dollar there was no taper. The 1967 coins were .800 fine silver and the 1968 coins are nickel..

Obviously then, dimes and quarters dated 1967 and 1968 that appear to be .800 fine silver could just as easily be .500 fine. These coins need to be segregated and handled differently much as you would not put 40 percent silver half dollars in bags of 90 percent silver halves.

So, I answered the question and refreshed my own memory.

I guess the 1960s aren’t yesterday after all.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."